Cyber-Bullies, Obesity and Stress
There was a recent article in The Guardian newspaper that I thought might be of interest to us all, including my own practice, Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic.
Its subject was the new chair of The Royal College of GPs, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard – in effect the new leader of the UK’s 49,000-plus general practitioners.
Written by Denis Campbell, the article was headlined: ‘Cyber-bullies, obesity and stress… this is a scary world, says the new top GP.’
Dr Stokes-Lampard laments that the proliferation of social media, such as Instagram and Snapchat, has contributed to an explosion of mental-health problems among people with weight issues, including youngsters.
People have become more judgmental about appearance, says the doctor, who adds: “We’re a fat-shaming society.”
Dilemmas of addressing weight-loss matters
She goes on to say that doctors face a huge problem of where to refer patients and, in addition to other measures, she calls for the expansion of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provision.
Many of the issues raised in the article are of relevance to hypnotherapy treatment. Unintentionally, perhaps, the piece also exposes one of the dilemmas of addressing weight-loss matters. Some would say the dilemma might more accurately be described as a contradiction – on the one hand obesity is recognised as being a dangerous condition that not only threatens the individual but puts a huge strain on health service resources; on the other hand, labelling someone as being fat can have a detrimental effect on their mental well-being and thereby nurture a secondary condition.
Such a contention merits analysis.
Weight-loss treatment at Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic
At Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic, I have treated a lot of weight-loss clients as well as treating many people for a variety of other conditions, including low self-esteem. Confidence building, of course, is beneficial to a client’s wellbeing both as a distinct treatment or as part of therapy for some other (often related) condition.
But the supposed contradiction arises in the contention that by labelling someone as being fat, the therapist erodes that client’s self-confidence and thus exacerbates anxiety. Such a notion has seen many therapists and others involved in the wider weight-loss industry avoiding obvious truths – and thereby failing to offer effective treatment.
A fundamental part of treatment offered at Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic, and hopefully by all members of the Association of Weight Loss Hypnotherapists, is that a client should recognise and accept his or her condition.
So, fat is fat.
If someone is obese they are obese – not “ well built” or “big boned”.
Honesty is a key to success. But they are not being labelled fat – their weight doesn’t define them it simply needs to be addressed.
Once a client accepts the condition, the very simple physical rules can then be applied – i.e. consume fewer calories than are being expended and weight will be reduced. It is important that the client understands that the therapist is not being judgmental and that together the client and the therapist are going to resolve the issue.
The client needs to be reassured that his or her weight problem is not a permanent state – obesity can be overcome and overcome quite easily.
The problem that Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard highlights is not one of candour among professionals but that social media is making society ever more divisive and exposing vulnerable individuals to wider hostility. Such people need help and not capricious ridicule and that includes people with weight problems. They don’t deserve hectoring – they simply need honesty so as to grasp responsibility. But as Dr Stokes-Lampard points out, stretched resources means help is limited or even lacking.
As hypnotherapists all we can do is help to fill the gap as best we can.
Offered greater opportunities and with wider recognition of the services we provide, I’m in no doubt we could do much more.